"Sometimes I feel," said Roland carefully, "that the best state is to be without desire. When I look at myself-"
"If you have a self-"
"At my life, at the way it is- what I really want is to- to have nothing. An empty clean bed. I have this image of a clean empty bed in a clean empty room, where nothing is asked or to be asked."
"I know what you mean. No, that's a feeble thing to say. It's a much more powerful coincidence than that. That is what I think about when I am alone. How good it would be to have nothing. And the same image. An empty bed in an empty room. White."
And yet. Yet the moment I moved into my apartment I hustled up a very decent sounding little stereo. I wanted my Bassnectar and my Bach to resonate with excellent treble and bass. And yet. Yet I want my photos on this blog to be crisp and large and gorgeous. And yet. Yet I found I could not stand taking my old Zoom out even one more time, could not listen to its Chinese steel creak and groan, or readjust the floppy chain, or fill the every-third-day-flat-tires. I told myself that I was afraid of the inevitable breakdown somewhere on a back road, when even with a phone I would not be able to guide someone to come and get me, but this could happen with a brand new bike of any quality. The truth of the matter was that I was riding less because I did not enjoy riding the Zoom. I could have made do, and if I was authentically poor I damn well would have. Instead I took a saawng tao to NKP and dropped $3500 bht ($116)- half my monthly stipend on a lightly used, much nicer bike. It is not the gorgeous Cinelli my father gave me, which I have awaiting me in the States, but I look on her with great fondness parked there in the corner of my living room.
It is an old story. I am sure all my former students could tell you all about Pfister and his moaning and groaning about American materialism. It was the only thing more boring than all those stupid books I had them read! This dichotomy of indulgence and abstention is readily evident in Thailand, and I suppose most emerging second tier countries- where monks symbolize the renunciation of the material world, but most people give to the monks in order to be lucky and get rich quickly. Heady stuff I am far too incapable of sorting out with my feeble brain. What I can tell you: It felt bloody wonderful to head out on my new bike out on the newly paved main highway, to feel its quiet wheels spin down the tarmac, to shift gears readily and efficiently, to feel the brakes pull me to a quick stop at the night market. So, yes, I still want that white room with a clean white bed, but I guess I want a few stylish white Apple products in there, and a bicycle or two...